The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
It was the most important thing to happen in Timmins since the discovery of gold. And it happened 50 years ago, on Nov. 7, 1963.
It was Thursday November 7th, 1963. Texas Gulf exploration geologist Ken Darke directed a diamond drill crew where to set up for drilling on the mineral anomaly known as Kidd 55. The very first drill hole was K-55-1. The drilling crew was set up in the northeast section of Kidd Township, roughly 24 kilometres from Timmins Town Hall.
Aside from a handful of drillers and geologists, no one would witness the incredible event that would happen the next few days in that drill shack, as core samples from hole no. K-55-1 were being pulled out of the ground and placed in core boxes.
As the story goes, one of the samples displayed a length of solid copper nearly a foot long. Ken Darke knew immediately he was standing on a major discovery. It would become the world-class Kidd Creek orebody; so huge and so rich it was a geological freak of nature. It was a good Friday in Timmins, although no one in Timmins knew it yet.
It would be another six months before Texas Gulf formally announced the discovery on April 16, 1964, causing whoops of joy, kicking off a major staking rush as well as a rush on buying shares in any company anywhere near the Kidd Township discovery.
It would also become the discovery that guaranteed the economic stability of Timmins that continues to this day, according to several observers.
People who remember will say Timmins was a much different place 50 years ago. The economy was sound enough, thanks to the presence of half a dozen gold mines, but there was also a sense of apprehension in the community.
“Things were not that great because Hollinger was on the verge of closing. They were winding down their operations,” recalled Dan Kelly, former broadcaster and city alderman.
“There were no discoveries to speak of in the Timmins area. There wasn’t much exploration going on outside of Texas Gulf.”
Indeed, in 1963 Hollinger Consolidated Gold Mines let its employees know that there was a Termination Payments Plan in place. Hollinger was continuing to make a profit, but only because of federal subsidies from the Emergency Gold Mine Assistance program. Employee turnover had reached 30 per cent. More miners were looking for greener pastures.
The fall of 1963 and early winter of 1964 had a lot of people wondering if Timmins had much of a future, Kelly remembered.
But it changed in a heartbeat on April 16th, 1964 with a brief message from Texas Gulf that flashed over the news wires, saying a major discovery of copper, zinc and silver had been made.
Kelly remembered that the town went over the top with happiness and optimism and it was manifested in a rush at the local stock brokerage offices, where pensioners and housewives were madly buying up all available shares.
At the time, Kelly was a popular broadcaster at CKGB Radio in the Thomson Building on Cedar Street. But the decision was made to get closer to the action.
“During the Texas Gulf Discovery I moved all of my equipment over to Doherty Roadhouse (stock broker) and did the stock quotes every half hour from there, for about six months,” said Kelly.
“I had a desk in there. And all the prominent mining people in Ontario passed through those doors in that six months,” he remembered.
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